Senate HELP Committee Adopts National Pain Care Policy Act as Part of Comprehensive Health Care Reform Legislation

Statement of Daniel E. Smith, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

WASHINGTON -- June 23, 2009 -- “Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee members voted unanimously today to amend health care reform legislation to ensure that cancer patients, survivors, and others suffering from chronic pain receive the proper pain care they need to get adequate relief.  The cancer community commends the HELP Committee for taking a critical step toward crafting legislation that is patient-focused and improves the overall quality of life of those who suffer from the burden of unmanaged pain.

“The National Pain Care Policy Act of 2009, which the Committee adopted as an amendment to its health care reform bill, has received broad support from both chambers. The full House passed a companion bill in late March.  Cancer patients and survivors are acutely familiar with the burden of unmanaged pain and tragically too often suffer, despite the availability of a variety of medication and other therapies available to control it. This amendment would increase understanding and awareness about the importance of pain management for patients and survivors, coordinate pain research efforts at the National Institutes of Health, provide health care professional training in pain assessment and management, and help address pain treatment disparities experienced in certain underserved populations.

“We are hopeful that this important amendment will remain included throughout in final legislation. Health care reform must help patients live better with their disease.  In addition to including important measures that focus on addressing pain and other quality of life issues that promote well-being, Congress must also transform our current “sick care” system into one that focuses on prevention and ensures that patients and survivors of serious illness with chronic disease have access to the full continuum of quality affordable care.”

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Alissa Havens
Phone: (202) 661-5772

Audrey Pernik
Phone: (202) 661-5763


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